The Indiana Pacers are eyeing former All-Star forward Gordon Hayward as a trade target this offseason, according to a recent report by SNY's Ian Begley, as Hayward mulls a player option in the final year of his contract with the Boston Celtics.
Hayward could opt out of the roughly $34 million he's owed and become a free agent and, with no superstars available in this year's free-agent market, he could be in a position of leverage. So, the Pacers' interest is contingent on him even being available in a deal.
But if Hayward does opt in and is able to be traded for, the Pacers would certainly make sense in terms of the assets they could offer. Indiana has a deep roster full of solid veterans and ascending young players, plus most of their draft picks. They owe their 2020 first round pick to the Bucks for the trade that landed them Malcolm Brogdon.
What would be tricky is finding a way for both the talent and salaries to match. The Pacers have a lot of good players on fair, if not team-friendly contracts. Hayward is a good player, but only has one year left on his deal.
For example, Myles Turner has been mentioned in various trade rumors, but he's only making $18 million each of the next three seasons. No one on Indiana makes more than $21 million per season (Victor Oladipo).
The Pacers also do not have enough cap room to absorb Hayward's contract in an uneven salary deal. Maybe a third team could get involved.
From a pure basketball standpoint, Hayward could help the Pacers' cause. They are one of the best defensive teams in the league, but were 19th in offensive rating and 23rd in points per game last season.
Hayward is coming of his best season following the gruesome leg injury he suffered in 2017. In 52 games, Hayward averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 50 percent from the field and 38.3 percent from three.
Hayward could help the Pacers boost their offense, if only they can make a deal work for both sides.